New York || May 2017


If you ever wanted to see way too many townhouses, find out my tips for new travelers, hear about all my amazing food, (also the ONE food that I couldn't seem to get ANYWHERE in New York), and get vertigo from all of the dizzying heights I witnessed, then keep reading, mah friends <3

|| Friday Night || 

Let me begin with how hilariously bad our luck was on these plane rides. Delta has been named a pretty great airline from what I can find or lookup about them but both of my flights sucked and I can't remember ever having this much problem before. I have flown before but it's been years. Our flight began on time until the weather didn't permit, and I definitely have never flown into the Atlanta airport. At least, not that I remembered.

We had an hour layover in Atlanta, and for those of you who haven't been to the Atlanta airport, IT'S LIKE IF A FREAKING MALL AND A MAZE HAD TRIPLETS! Good grief. I was trying to vlog the entire time because Vanessa and I were about delirious from excitement to go to New York and I was hoping to capture every moment. The problem arose when I found out that my stupid camera strap was broken and couldn't hold my camera for the whole trip. I had to hold the huge contraption in my hand the first day we went sightseeing and shopping. It was a pain.

We boarded a small subway speeding through the place, minimizing our walking distance by half at least. Once boarded, I was too tired, too distracted and definitely wasn't taking anything literally when my co-worker told me to 'hold on.' I thought she meant figuratively and nearly wiped out on the ground when the subway lurched, throwing anybody without a proper handhold on the handles above or leaning against the side into other people. It's safe to say that I caught on quickly after that. But I digress, the trip was spectacular.

Getting back to the airport, we ended up having a two hour layover instead of just one hour and got into New York around 2:20 a.m.  and eventually ended up in bed around 3 am. Upon leaving the airport, we were slinging our bags into the car awaiting us and I looked up to see a bus ram into the front of the taxi-or vice versa. I'm not sure who was to blame but both laid on their horns, and everyone stuck behind them did the same. Our first official welcome to New York aside from the pilot! Our driver was a man from Croatia, sounding more like Count Chocula of the cartoons with his accent than anything I'd ever heard before. He wove around the city in the rain with alarming speed, riding the middle of the road like it was his own made up lane. 

|| Saturday ||

This was the morning that we actually got to sleep in a little bit before we went on our tour around the city with Adel, our driver from Morocco. We ordered room service and got ready for the day despite having little to no sleep.  Our hotel was the famous New York Lotte Palace Hotel. If you haven't heard of it, think Gossip Girl. That was our hotel! Our lobby opened up to this staircase and led to the courtyard where a wedding took place the next morning. We didn't get pictures of the courtyard or the bar area until the next day.

During our tour, Adel told us about the church where the movie Salt was filmed and another location where National Treasure was filmed. I am absolutely terrible with names of streets and barely remembered the shops we went in because we were in such a rush the whole day. We got to drive through Chinatown, (where we found out that the streets used to be lined back to back with Chinese shops, all full of products, only kept in business from the drug trafficking that went on in their back rooms.Cops have raided them so often and shut them down, resulting in much fewer open shops and too many standing empty.) Upper East Side, Lower East Side (Holla, Gossip Girls), Little Italy (where the mafia roamed back in the day and ruled the nest.

Now, we were told, they are mostly underground) and toured the city during shopping on the famous 5th Avenue. Our travels for Day One and Day Two are recorded as we walked around or drove. I crammed in as much footage as I could-to remember the beautiful brownstones of Day Two and the Gothic architecture of Day One.This was our view out the window.

The link to the vlog can be found here. Comment below what your favorite part was and what I could have seen/done/videoed to make my trip better!  

We managed to hop out for a quick walk to see the edge of the river that leads to Staten Island. The breeze kicked up even worse there as we looked out for the Statue of Liberty.

Despite having seen it so often in pictures and videos, it surprised me to find it so far away. Because we were so crunched for time, we had to miss the Boathouse which I've heard is one of the hidden attractions of New York; and we also had to miss seeing the Brooklyn Bridge since it was so crowded and we had so little time to walk around-only drive. We managed to slip out and briefly tour the World Trade Center, which is a subway station-more like a mall inside with shops and all sorts of stores.

We made our way next to the highlight of the whole tour-really the highlight of New York-Ground Zero. It sounds odd to say that but I wouldn't have missed the place for the world. I've never seen any pictures of Ground Zero so I didn't know what to expect. The blueprint of the building has a huge pool down into the ground with an even smaller pool where the water rushed into like a waterfall. The edges of the pool were engraved with the names of the victims of the twin towers. Something about standing there and watching the water rush down lower into the ground just gave me goosebumps and artistically captured the very essence of those beautiful souls lost in that horrible tragedy.

After our tour, we ate underground at the Plaza Hotel where they had a food court with luxury food. Macaroons and chocolates lined the cases for the dessert stand in the middle and anything from Greek, Italian, the broader European category and then some Asian fusion. We sat in a table in the middle of the Mediterranean area where I ordered some lamb gyros.

After lunch, we went shopping up and down 5th Avenue and even passed Trump Tower while we were shopping for jewelry. We don't have a Zara, Topshop, or the broader selection of H&M. Everything is better in New York; the food, the walking activities, the streets, the architecture, and definitely shopping. The only complaint I had of New York was the constant honking and the fact that most taxi drivers made up their own lanes. The only part they didn't cover were the sidewalks and I wouldn't have been surprised to see a car chase with them bumping over the pedestrians like in all of the movies. They were just crazy enough to do that, ha!

After shopping, we decided to go to the rooftop bar and grille of the Palladino hotel where we took pictures from stories up.

There were two decks-one for sightseeing and narrow like a hallway; the other was wide and held several chairs and tables-one just for us as we made it quickly up to the deck right as it opened. The whole afternoon and morning had held off rain, only blowing a cool breeze into our faces as we walked. It began to sprinkle right as we left the rooftop and made our way back to the hotel to change before our dinner reservations for Beauty & Essex.

Beauty & Essex is a very hard restaurant to get into, the reservation securing you getting seated eventually, not necessarily quickly. We got out of the taxi in what I thought was Chinatown but could have easily been anywhere else. New York streets ran together in my mind. The front Hollywood lights have been laid over an old furniture place, adding to the character of the tiny glass front windows and jingling door. It opens to a small closet-like room with several shelves and a counter for a working pawn shop. It definitely caught me off guard, and I wondered where the actual food was. The back door opened up, reminding me of the back dealings of the Chinatown drug ring and enveloped us in a darkly lit room with a chandelier and fur walls leading up the staircase. The next portion was a bar area with leather couches. The final area was the dinner area with tables and booths all dimly lit in the night lighting. The roof was made of a glass-domed window panes that looked straight up at the stars. The very essence of the place screamed out New York night vibes.

Tip: when eating out in New York, be prepared to use your mathematical genius or calculator for those of you impaired like me. Checks cannot be split at any point and you will have to divide and manually add your own tip and tax which is somewhere around 8.something there. And someone better have cash if they can't accept more than four credit/debit cards. And if you're like me, don't bring Discover unless you want to get rejected in some places. 

|| Sunday ||

Sunday morning we left the hotel with plans for breakfast that were thwarted by the taxi drivers not able to make it through the bike race that began at 7 that morning and ended at 6 at night. The bike race took up a main road, blocking our commute but making us walk a good many blocks before we got to where we were supposed to go. I was thankful for the walk because it allowed me to see the famous Brownstone houses all smooshed together along the streets on our way to the edge of the city.

Every house had ornate architecture, steps leading grandly up to the doors-usually chipped and worn looking but not losing any of the grandeur. Several had little doors in the ground, subway steps descending to these little dwelling places and blocked off by iron gates spiked at the top. Several of the houses had fire escapes climbing up the walls, some painted white to match the trim on the narrow buildings. Some houses had pots and pots of flowers or plants decorating the steps and leading up to the window flower boxes or iron grates half covering the side windows.

Goldwell Academy, where we took our five hour class, was located in the Meatpacking District. We wandered around past the academy to find breakfast past Bubby's (our Monday Breakfast stop since Sunday was too busy) and found a seedy little street vendor beside a little man making cappuccinos and serving little breakfast delicacies in an open air stall near our school. I grabbed a cappuccino and a banana walnut coffee cake and ate them quickly before finally snagging a Dr. Pepper from the seedy street vendor for later since I couldn't find Dr. Pepper ANYWHERE.

The class itself was worth every penny, the whole trip and more. I absolutely love how they effectively demonstrated the examples, gave us fancy notebooks with sketch heads for drawing purposes, explained the products and got us moving with hands on demos. We learned so much from that first day and second. To give you a little background, freeform painting isn't just balayage-a type of highlighting with or without foils. It creates a softer transition and a more natural appearance. Freeform can be any type of hairpainting that involves color, or lightener. We learned a few techniques with lightener and some with just color to give another effect. The technique can be the same.

At lunch, we had an hour, but at a sit down restaurant. It took a few minutes to get the food to us. I inhaled this pizza myself in 15 minutes flat which would be slightly more impressive if it hadn't been so wafer thin. Still delicious though. New York gets a 100 for food alone. Geez. So good.

Sunday night we ate at another delicious restaurant, decked in Asian decor along the brick walls and dark lights for that SoHo vibe that New York is famous for.

Tip: when going to New York and wanting anything other than Coke or Pepsi, best to get it from the seedy street vendor that sells the bagels and lamb gyros since no restaurants sell Dr.Pepper, root beer, or any other soft drink. When I asked the waiter why they didn't sell them, he reported that the state had taken them away in an effort to be healthier. Tell me why Coke, Pepsi, and liquor doesn't fall under than unhealthy category then. Hmm.

|| Monday || 

Our morning was spent getting a relaxing breakfast in the bright little industrial restaurant called Bubby's.

The orange juice was freshly pressed, the pancakes were as big as my head and thick as my hand, and if you eat any pancakes at all, order the whipped cream that is homemade to top it off. Easily the best breakfast I had there.We had to leave immediately from class to the airport to catch our flight so our bags were hauled with us in the taxi to class as we left early to hit the Meatpacking District before it got too busy.

Tip: always keep a few ones in your pocket when catching a taxi with a bellman. You will need to tip him once he has hailed you a cab and hauled your bags into the trunk of the taxi.

Tip: when in a taxi, ignore the price on the screen in front of you since it is usually more expensive than the actual fare of the cab on the dashboard near the driver. There will be some added to that price when you stop.

To conclude our trip, we ran into the airport, hardly pausing for breath to board our flight after our long class day. We sat to eat something before we boarded when we found we had time and returned to the non-stop flight back home. Just when we had boarded the plane and everything seemed on schedule, we heard the bad news. Apparently our cloud barometer that measures the ice in clouds broke. We had a spare but the delay came when the pilot had to fill out paperwork for 45 minutes. Due to this delay, we got knocked out of the running to leave the airport and had to wait for the fourteen planes to park before we could leave. After 90 minutes, they have a law to open the doors in case anybody wanted to disembark. This delayed us another 10-15 minutes before we were finally cleared to leave. We finally made it back to Memphis, two hours behind schedule. All's well that ends well.

Xoxo, Char

Checklist when I go back:

|| Sightseeing||

Brooklyn Bridge
Statue of Liberty
Little Italy
High Line-a walking place much like the Green Line here in Memphis except New York takes it to a whole other level with making it high up above.
The Boathouse-not entirely sure what this entails but I am definitely curious and want to check it out since my group was highly praising it if we had had time.
Time Square
Shopping anywhere really. I loved Top Shop and Zara. Definitely going back.
Taking a carriage ride through Central Park
Take a subway
Ride in a double decker bus
Grand Central Station
Broadway Show  


|| Eating ||

New York bagel ( I DIDN'T EVEN GET ONE :'( )
I found a few videos online of this cookie dough served like icecream in New York along with an icecream place that shoves all sorts of goodies into these huge glasses and gives you a straw to drink it as if it's some low-key sundae and not some monstrous junk food pile. I definitely want to go.
Bubby's-I know I already went but come on, now. It was good food, man. Definitely going back.